Changes to Iowa’s Bee Rule
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can I register my hives at any time – what is the significance of the first day of each month?
A. The proposed rule changes the requirements here for both applicators and beekeepers. Under the new Bee Rule, beekeepers can add their apiary locations to the IDALS Sensitive Crops Directory at any time. The Bee Rule then applies to all apiaries which are listed on the Sensitive Crops Directory on the first day of each month.
Q. Where can I find Sensitive Crops Registry?
Q. Why do I have to re-register each year?
A. In order to keep the information located within the Sensitive Crops Directory as accurate as possible, the directory will be purged on December 31st of each year. Registry entries must be renewed annually to remain active.
Q. Why is the rule change needed?
A. The Administrative Rules Review formally objected to the current rule on the grounds the Department lacked the statutory authority. This action rendered enforcement impossible and invalidated the rule.
The proposed rule is the direct result of meetings held between state government, university, Iowa Honey Producers Association board members, ag chemical applicators, and beekeepers. The proposed rule is a compromise which has been built out of communication between groups (beekeepers & applicators) which typically do not communicate - and often communicate poorly when they do.
Certainly no one intends to kill bees, but a special layer of protection is needed in Iowa due to the scale of agriculture. The Iowa Bee Rule has been in place since 1979, but it has become outdated. It, obviously, was written before common use of phone answering machines, let alone cell phones and the internet. Methods of contact, phone numbers for emergency situations, and even public offices originally written into the language of the rule have changed, and some even disappeared entirely. There has been much apathy towards the apiary registry and the method of beekeeper notification prior to application of insecticides labeled as toxic to bees. Those involved often felt that it wasn't effective, didn't work, and wasn't worth bothering with. Additionally, beekeepers commonly don't know what exactly to do once notified of pending application of insecticides labeled as toxic to bees in their area. Beekeepers often have felt it better to do nothing at all rather than move the bees to an unprotected area or confine them inside the hives in the heat of the summer. There is no completely "correct" action to take in light of a nearby application of insecticides labeled as toxic to bees. Applicators have often felt that they were subject to added responsibility for no benefit to bees or beekeepers. Accidental bee kills over the years have made the communication situation worse between parties. The apiary registry contains only a fraction of the bee yards in the state. Change is necessary.
Q. Why do away with notification?
A. The Bee Rule proposal eliminates notification prior to application of insecticides labeled as toxic to bees in close proximity of registered apiaries. Instead, it provides a system of direct protection of foraging honeybees by prohibiting application of insecticides labeled as toxic to bees within one mile of registered apiaries during peak honeybee foraging hours.
Q. Who was involved in process of considering the rule change?
A. The proposed rule is the direct result of meetings held between state government, university, Iowa Honey Producers Association board members, ag chemical applicators, and beekeepers. In addition, we have encouraged input from Iowa beekeepers of all scales as well as ag applicators, growers, and other concerned citizens. The proposed rule has been presented at the Iowa Honey Producers Association Annual Meeting. It has been discussed on radio programs, it has been published online through ISU Extension, and background information has been published in the Buzz (Iowa's beekeeping newsletter).
Q. Why do we think this will work – what is the logic?
A. The application of insecticides labeled as toxic to bees in areas near registered apiaries is to be scheduled around the active foraging hours of honeybees. The applications must occur prior to 8:00 AM and after 6:00PM. The application times prevent application directly to the foraging bees themselves. It also allows the chemicals to settle and dry onto plant surfaces outside the hours of active bee foraging.
Q. I’ve heard people say that the new rule is not focused on pollinators other than honeybees. Is this true?
A. Obviously, this proposal is focused on the protection of beekeeper-managed colonies of honeybees in locations listed in the Iowa Apiary Registry. It does not address issues of protection / conservation of other pollinators and beneficial insects.
Q. Why impact insecticide applications within 1 mile of registered hives?
A. Bees can fly up to about 5 miles. Many beekeepers prefer the more conservative 2 mile radius in the existing version of the Bee Rule, but the proposal is a compromise. When there is good forage for bees (April through August), studies have shown the average foraging distance of adult bees is between 1/2 and 3/4 of a mile. This average expands to 1 1/3 miles in times of dearth. In order to halt application of insecticides labeled as toxic to bees between 8AM and 6PM, a compromise was made to the 1 mile radius in the proposal.
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